Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Saturday marked the official start of fall – my favorite season – and now that the weather is cooling down*, I feel it’s a safe time to start delving into one of my favorite styles: pumpkin beers.
Pumpkin beers are one of those most divisive styles around. People either really enjoy them or vehemently despise them. I, of course, am in the former, as pumpkin is my all-time favorite flavor. Maybe it’s because I’m an October baby and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but from the beginning of October through the end of November, I crave anything and everything pumpkin.
My foray into pumpkin beers is young, as I really didn’t get into the style until last year. Before that, I had tried some truly awful pumpkin beers, but last fall I had the chance to try a handful of beers from the style that made me do a complete 180. One of those beers is Dogfish Head‘s Punkin.
When I look for a pumpkin beer, I want one of two things: 1) A beer that focuses on the pumpkin and tastes like liquified pumpkin pie, or 2) a beer that lets the spices you’d find in pumpkin dishes shine. Punkin falls into the latter category. Instead of being a straightforward pumpkin beer, it focuses on all the spices that go into a delicious pumpkin pie, including nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon.
Punkin is labeled as an amber ale, and while it’s not quite amber, it does pur a darker orange that’s brownish toward the center. It’s slightly hazy with barely any head, and whatever’s there dissipates quickly. There’s some really light lacing and a mild alcohol leg.
The nose on Punkin is fantastic. There’s huge wafts of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, a slight hint of the pumpkin and brown sugar. I love how it clearly accentuates the spices. It smells like what I want my house to smell like during the fall.
As far as taste, it starts with a bite of spice on the front of the tongue. There’s a really strong carbonation and spice across the palate and it ends with all those big spice flavors just flooding into each other. The brown sugar and nutmeg are strongest on the back, and the pumpkin is definitely there as well. It lingers and just sticks to your mouth.
Punkin is my No. 2 pumpkin beer. It eschews being overly pumpkin-y and instead opts for focusing on the spices you’d expect in a pumpkin pie. The creamy, full mouthfeel is there from the pumpkin, but it’s an afterthought compared with the spices that clearly pop throughout the entirety of the beer.
*However, Saturday saw a high in the 90s in South Carolina. Clearly summer has a death grip on this state.